Tag Archives: violence

Their daughters

Paracetamol legends I know
For rising fevers, as pain-relievers—

Of my people—father’s father’s mother’s
Mother, dark lush hair caressing her ankles
Sometimes, sweeping earth, deep-honey skin,
Amber eyes—not beauty alone they say—she
Married a man who murdered thirteen men and one
Lonely summer afternoon her rice-white teeth tore
Through layers of khaki, and golden white skin to spill
The bloodied guts of a British soldier who tried to colonize her. . .

Of my land—uniform blue open skies,
Mad-artist palettes of green lands and lily-filled lakes that
Mirror all—not peace or tranquil alone, he shudders—some
Young woman near my father’s home, with a drunken husband
Who never changed; she bore his beatings everyday until on one
Stormy night, in fury, she killed him by stomping his seedbags. . .

We: their daughters.
We: the daughters of their soil.

We, mostly, write.

(First published in Quarterly Literary Review, Singapore)

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My lover speaks of rape

Flaming green of a morning that awaits rain
    And my lover speaks of rape through silences,
    Swallowed words and the shadowed tones
    Of voice. Quivering, I fill in his blanks.
Green turns to unsightly teal of hospital beds
    And he is softer than feathers, but I fly away
    To shield myself from the retch of the burns
    Ward, the shrill sounds of dying declarations,
The floral pink-white sad skins of dowry deaths.

Open eyes, open hands, his open all-clear soul . . .

Colorless noon filters in through bluish glass
    And coffee keeps him company. She chatters
    Away telling her own, every woman’s story;
    He listens, like for the first time. Tragedy in
Bridal red remains a fresh, flushing bruise across
    Brown-yellow skinscapes, vibrant but made
    Muted through years of silent, waiting skin.
    I am absent. They talk of everyday assault that
Turns blue, violet and black in high-color symphony.

Open eyes, open hands, his open all-clear soul . . .

Blues blend to an unforgiving metropolitan black
    And loneliness seems safer than a gentle night
    In his arms. I return from the self-defence lessons:
Mistrust is the black-belted, loose white mechanism
    Of survival against this groping world and I am
    A convert too. Yet, in the way of all life, he could try
And take root, as I resist, and yield later, like the earth.

Open eyes, open hands, his open all-clear soul . . .
Has he learnt to live my life? Has he learnt never to harm?

The flight of birds

“a poem should be wordless
as the flight of birds.”
—Archibald Macleish, Ars Poetica.

birds don’t sing in their flight

for them flying is a muse
they compose mid-air
weave agnostic verse
sneering haughtily at our absurdity
as they float over our meaningless mosques and churches
and those patrolled international borders
and other disputed sites
where the guns go bang bang bang all the time
they swing over there losing their birdegos
(ego is difficult to retain in mid-flight)
wondering about and watching men plucking out
and quashing the lives of other men and women and
poor helpless children and they
shed a birdtear or two from there
a birdtear that is lost midway due to heat of some explosion
down below some crazy fanatical bomb detonating
killing instantly the people and the city and the forests
and even the pitiable babybirds who are yet to learn to fly

they contemplate of writing poems
about a bird’s egg charring
before even being boiled and scratch their beaks
unsure if this is a metaphor or simile or other poetic device

o the birds have lots and lots and lots to write about
o their writings will never be banned

they borrow freedom
to write poems in the sky
they come back and
pass it on to us
we take the song only
brutally
but at least we take the song

to take the poem
to unscramble the words from the song and to put it back again
as song so spontaneously that it remains the poem and the song
to remember forever this refrain whose melody haunts us
and to hum that refrain which preserves our sanity
perhaps we need to fly
a trifle aimlessly like birds

or because we are humans
six-sensed creatures with massive egos
and massive superegos and massive egos on the ego
and because of possessing gray matter
what doctors call medulla oblongata
we need to feel with our red hearts
than think with some unlocatable mind

we need to look deeper. . .
into ourselves, into eyes
we need to lose ourselves
then, and only then

the poems will come
silent
wordless
as the flight of birds

(First published in Indian Literature)

We will rebuild worlds

We will rebuild / worlds from shattered glass/ and remnants of holocausts.

Once impaled for our faith / and trained to speak in voiceless whispers / we’ll implore / you to produce the list / from hallowed memories / of our people disgraced/ as outcastes / degraded / as untouchable at / sixty-four feet / denied a life/ and livelihood and done to death /

in so many ways it would take / an encyclopedia to describe and steven-spielberg / or some-such-guy to produce the special effects for a blockbuster version /

not just the stories of how/ you charred to death forty-four of our men and women and children / because they asked for handfuls of rice/

electrocuted children to instant death because they played in your well / and other ghastly carnages

but the crimes of passion/
our passion/ your crimes

poured poison and pesticide through the ears-nose-mouth/ or hanged them in public / because a man and a woman dared to love/ and you wanted / to teach / other boys and other girls / the lessons of / how to / whom to / when to / where to / continue their caste lines

and we will refresh your mind with other histories / of how you brutally murdered and massacred our peoples / with the smiling promise of / heaven in the next birth / and in this / a peace that / never belonged.

We will wipe away the / sham of your smiles / that appear and / disappear like commercials on prime time tv / smiles that flash across / botoxed faces / smiles that crease / plucked eyebrows / smiles that are pasted and / plastered to your lips/ smiles that sell yourself / smiles that seek to / sell us into soulless worlds.

We will singe the many skins you wear to the world/ the skins you change at work / the skins called castes and / skins called race / the skins you mend once a week / the skin you bought at a sale/ the skin you thought was yours / the filthy rich stinking skin you thought you could retain at bed.

Shorn of style / and a hypocrisy named / sophistication / there would be nothing for you to do but gape at our combat gears.

We will learn/ how to fight/ with the substantial spontaneity/
with which we first learnt / how to love.

So / now/ upon a future time/
there will be a revolution.

It will begin in our red-hot dreams that surge that/ scorch that / scald that sizzle like lava / but never settle down never / pungently solidify.

It will begin / when the song in the sway/ of our hips/ will lead us to dance and sing/ and stand up straight / put up a pretty fight/ redeem and reclaim/ the essence of our earth.

It will begin / as our naked bodies / held close together / like hands in prayer / against each other/ like hands in prayer / set to defy the dares the /diktats the years the terms / the threats / that set us apart.

It will begin / as we give names to our children and/ give names to our / inward anger and aches and / name ourselves / with words of fury / like forest fires / with the words of wrath / like stealthy wildcat eyes / that scare the cowards/ in power /away.

It will begin / the way thunder rises in our throats and / we will brandish our slogans with a stormy stress and succeed / to chronicle to / convey the last stories / of our lost and scattered lives.

It will begin / when the oppressors will wince/ every time they hear our voices and their sparkly silence will never be taken for a sacrament.

It will begin when never / resting we will scream / until / our uvulas tear away and our breathless words breathe life to the bleeding dead and in the black magic of our momentary silences / you will hear two questions / India, what is the caste of sperm? / India, what is the cost of life? and the rest of our words will rush/ in this silenced earth / like the rage of a river in first flood.

It will begin / that day when / we will pay /
all that it takes / for the dangerous price of love.

Hymns of a hag

I fancy myself being a witch.
Broomstick borne and black as pitch.
 
                                Thin, stark-naked and with fire for eyes.
                                Killing men whom I despise.

Bewailing the woeful life I led.
Casting dark spells, makin’ them dead.

                                Thronging ghettos, to unbend bent backs.
                                Handing them knives, ’least an axe.

Lot later I fly to temple streets.
Our men firm, I show my feats.

                                Haunting oppressors to shave their heads.
                                Cutting all their holy threads.

Experiencing joy as they bleed.
Dance, rejoice my black black deed.

                                Leave one farewell note, an obscene cue:
                                ‘Judgment day is long since due.’

Ultimately, I’ll lie in the ditch—
Ne’er give a damn, when called ‘Bitch’.

Aggression

Ours is a silence
that waits. Endlessly waits.

And then, unable to bear it
any further, it breaks into wails.

But not all suppressed reactions
end in our bemoaning the tragedy.

Sometimes,
the outward signals
of inward struggles takes colossal forms
And the revolution happens because our dreams explode.

Most of the time:

Aggression is the best kind of trouble-shooting.